Darwin Cup record breaker

Cup win elation: Trainer Nicole Bruggemann, jockey Jessie Philpot and 2021 Great Northern Darwin Cup Carnival ambassador Hannah West after the Darwin Cup win by Highly Decorated last week. Photo: Darwin Turf Club

The annual Darwin Cup Carnival has often provided an opportunity for gallopers from Kyneton to make their mark.

Last Monday, Jessie Philpot – formerly apprenticed to Kyneton trainer Mick Sell – created history by becoming the first female jockey to ever win the most prestigious race in the Northern Territory.

And the Sell stable’s favourite galloper, Carlingford, won the Darwin Corporate Park Cup the previous week under the care of Kyneton trainer Neil Dyer who has been a regular at the northern carnival for many years, with two Darwin Cups to his credit.

This year Dyer’s hope Kaonic finished fourth in the $200,000 feature event behind Highly Decorated, a rejuvenated five-year-old who made it seven wins in a row, with Philpot in the saddle the last six times.

Highly Decorated is yet another of those remarkable racing stories, this time with an all-female team involved – owner Donna Stevenson, South Australian ‘bush’ trainer Nicole Bruggemann, and jockey Philpot.

A capacity crowd of over 10,000 attended the 11-event meeting, with the Cup the final event of the day.
From the inside barrier, Philpot quickly took $7.50 chance Highly Decorated to the front and maintained this role, kicking away in the straight to win by 2.6 lengths. It was a great front running ride by Philpot.

It was the biggest win of the 26-year-old rider’s career, and she said she had been inspired by Michelle Payne’s Melbourne Cup victory in 2015.
Philpot, originally from Queensland, has now won 89 races and has the astonishing record of having ridden winners in every state and territory in Australia.

The Sells were thrilled to see their former rider win the Darwin Cup. She left Kyneton to work for leading Alice Springs trainer Greg Connor earlier this year.
The Darwin Cup was also Bruggemann’s biggest success as a trainer. She is now setting up permanent stables in Darwin.
The trainer said she had seen the sport change over time and wanted her win to help more women believe could do anything in the sport.


Mick Sell and the other loyal owners of Carlingford were appreciative of the Neil Dyer Racing team looking after Carlingford on the trip north, where he has chalked up a win in the Darwin Corporate Cup when ridden by Stan Taiskos, a second, and two fourth placings in the past few weeks under Dyer’s care.

“A horse like this deserves accolades – he may not be a champion on paper but he is our little champ,” Sell said, acknowledging such honest gallopers were few and far between.

Carlingford, now an eight-year-old, has earned $345,070 in prize money from 73 starts, with 10 wins.

In this campaign he won on Kyneton Cup Day, was placed in Melbourne twice, and finally secured the elusive metropolitan win (at Darwin) he has often promised to produce.
“He eats everything, travels everywhere and is a pleasure to deal with and knows and loves what he does. Everyone around him adores the little character he is,” Sell said.